Breakneck and Hard Case Crime comics- A Manster comic book review
Joe Hayward is a simple man with a simple plan…To deliver a righteous beating (via brick and bat) to the man who is screwing his wife. But he quickly finds out (to misquote Robert Burns), “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
Breakneck is a Titan Comics book published under the Hard Case Crime imprint.
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artists: Simone Guglielmini & Raffaele Semeraro
Color Artists:Lovern Kindzierski & Chris Chuckry
Lettering: Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
With a number of variant cover artists each issue.
There are currently three issues of Breakneck with the fourth and final issue coming on March 19, so there’s still time to catch up. As of this writing you can still order the first three issues at the Titan Comics website.
Before I revisit Joe and his haphazard plan, let me briefly discuss Hard Case Crime. I first became aware of HCC in 2005 when they published the paperback-only Stephen King mystery novel, The Colorado Kid. At the time, it was their 13th book, and since then they have published over 140 books including a second King book, Joyland. In 2011, Titan Books replaced Dorchester as publisher of the HCC series and in addition to paperback books they also ventured into comic books with a number of offerings such as:
My introduction to the HCC comic books occurred in the Newbury Comics store in the mall at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT back when they still had boxes of independent comics that you could rifle through. Some boxes were packed so tight you could barely fit your fingers in but I managed and was pleasantly surprised to find the yellow HCC logo with a handgun and a crown in the upper left corner. In that box were a few titles including Peepland with its risque cover art and The Assignment with its less risque art. Not wanting to look like a perv, I opted for the less risque cover and upon reading the book, was not disappointed. HCC books are basically hard boiled crime stories that recreate in style and content the flavor of pulp crime paperback novels of the 1940’s and 50’s along with cover illustrations that hearken back to the golden age of paperbacks. The comic books, however, keep the hard boiled stories and the classic cover illustrations, but tend to update the comic book style.
Breakneck is written by Duane Swierczynski, whose writing credits for gritty crime noir comics and novels (as well as several non-fiction books) are about as long as the gams on a foxy dame. Among the comic book characters he’s written are: Cable, Punisher and Deadpool for Marvel, Judge Dredd for IDW, X for Dark Horse and Black Hood for Dark Circle…
…So writing a Hard Case Crime comic book is right up his alley. To be honest, I’ve read other books of his that were both darker and grittier but none that delivered the fast paced, frantic action while being laced with the humor that you’ll find in Breakneck. Issue one starts right off the bat (pun!) with the main character, Joe Hayward, talking himself through his plan to confront the man he suspects is giving his wife the beans. You get the feeling that perhaps Joe talks to himself like this quite a bit. His motivations are brought to light by his inner dialog, trying to make sense of the world around him. And it works pretty well to endear this insipid character to the reader. Upon assaulting Scott, an anti-terrorist government agent (also, the guy delivering the beans) Joe is ushered into a terrorist plot that will apparently end with the death of everyone in Philadelphia. This is made clear to the reader as every new scene begins with a banner saying ” — MINUTES UNTIL EVERYBODY DIES.” The story unravels in a non-linear fashion where the time-line jumps back and forth. It’s easy to tell where you are chronologically because the “minutes until everybody dies” fluctuates. Not a new plot device by any means, but again it works just fine within the construct of the story. Without giving too much away, I will say that Joe and Scott (with Scott as the cock-blocking leader) embark upon a journey involving a woman in bondage, sex toys, truth serum, car chases and some other surprises.
The line art by Simone Guglielmini & Raffaele Semeraro and colors by
Lovern Kindzierski & Chris Chuckry does a fine job of conveying the seedy details. I’m not exactly sure where the artists switch off so the consistency remains intact. At the end of the double-sized issue #1 there is a one page essay from the writer that explains the origin of the story and its progression from a novel to a comic book, which is an interesting read in itself. As its title would suggest, Breakneck is a fast-paced, fun read with good action and plenty of humor. You should check it out, and if you like it try some other Hard Case Crime titles.
I would give it 3 1/2 Mickeys out of 5.
Manster says so…